Posts tagged america
Posts tagged america
Have y’all seen that commercial? It’s for the Doritos Taco Locos at Taco Bell, which was sent from heaven as proof baby jeebus is cool with stoners. Or something. Seriously, they’re awesome.
Every damn time I see that commercial, I’ve taken to yelling, “My corporation is a person!” But my person can’t be a corporation, no matter how much I as a Uterused-American wish it to be so. That’s TOO freedomish! Therefore, less rights for you, Meg!
And now with SCOTUS shooting down Montana’s defense of their campaign finance law, it’s more likely the Citizens United decision is here to stay. And it’s more likely other states could see their campaign finance laws go the way of Montana’s.
My Doritos is a taco, my corporation is a person…
Tastes like freedoms!
This is an informative discussion over the differences between primaries and caucuses. It’s well worth your time. Personally, it’s shocking when I’m reminded of how much of this electoral process is just a clusterfuck…
^^Here’s hoping that becomes one of those meaningless wisdom quotes^^
Of course, I’m not spamming catchy slogans or anything. I’ve hopped on Tumblr to say something, anything as I’ve been absent for the past few weeks. So after I scrolled down my feed and had a look at what has been happening, I noticed another argument that taxation is theft. This may be my fault. I have anarchist and capitalist sympathies and may have followed the ultra-liberal blogs of tumblr. Usually, this argument flows over me, I greet it as a old friend and with a nod and a wink, send it back. On this occasion sadly, I nearly drown.
Tax is Theft.
The argument that tax is theft stems from the involuntary nature of tax. It either asserts that a government that respects the liberty, freedom and rights of the people must not threaten them into submitting to the state’s authority or that government and it’s actions can never be justified. The anarchist pose the latter and as such, the question of legitimate taxation is moot for them. This article is mostly directed at the governmental-minimalists, such as liberation doctrine. However, I do urge the anarchists to continue reading, as natural property remains an issue they must address and is something I will cover.
Let us examine the argument:
A: “Theft is depriving of someone the usage of something they own.” I looked around for definitions from dictionaries and such but most of them tied theft to the unlawful taking of property, so clearly they were in many ways bias. Equally, it was simply impossible to articulate theft without reference to property. I concluded that theft could be widely thought of as the denial of usage of something one owns as property is fundamentally about usage rights. If you steal my car, I still own it but am denied the right of usage entailed by ownership. Lastly, theft is differs from borrowing because it lacks consent. I therefore initially added “without consent” to my definition. However, I removed it as the right to usage presumes voluntary allowance and I therefore felt it redundant.
B: “Government taxation is universal and non-negotiable at the individual level.” Clearly, I presume quite a specific form of enlightened government. The Ancien Régime of the French Valois and Bourbon dynasties taxed heavily the Third Estate with little to no taxation for the first or second. Incontestably, universal is not necessary. However, many minimalist governments positions stress individual liberty and corollary equal treatment before the law. As such, when this argument is used, it presumes universality, even if that isn’t always the case. Equally, you don’t get to barter the amount or refuse to pay at the individual level. It can be argued that tax can be changed via political mechanism but other than that, we all pay the full amount. I therefore felt it important to acknowledge this as it plays an important role further on.
C: “Tax is theft.” This is an outcome.
So to recap:
A: “Theft is depriving of someone the usage of something they own.”
B: “Government taxation is universal and non-negotiable at the individual level.”
C: “”Tax is theft.”
The argument thus goes like this: If A^B :: C
Tacit Consent, Locke and Toilet Roll!
There you have it then, the argument against taxation. This is put very simply and loaded with assumptions, assumptions we may have to examine in turn to see if we still follow the argument to the conclusion. For example and mentioned earlier, one must identify what property is. If property is something wholly imparted by the government, property becomes a privilege. If you follow British philosopher John Locke however, property is natural and you have it before government. Property is thus a right. As many American libertarians cite constitutional rights and the founding father whom wrote it cited Locke, it is reasonable to presume that the concept of natural property rights is what American libertarians work from. Thus, it may be useful to know what Locke taught of the matter.
Locke, a social contract theorist thought like the others that if one could conceive of human nature without government, one could rationalize as to why people would rationally choose to be governed. In fact, I’m of the avid belief that anarchists are social contract theorists whom couldn’t find a good enough reason to play matchmaker between people and governance. For Locke, good government ensured freedom by bringing in an impartial judge to punish those whom would attempt to deny one’s rights, to both liberty and property. So it was imperative that rational people come together and found said impartial judiciary. Now, unlike Hobbes whom figured that was the end of things, Locke felt it wasn’t right to condemn the unborn generations to the will of their forefathers, no matter how rational they were been. He thus required consent to be given to the collective on a continuous basis. This is important, as if you consent to government, you consent to the levy needed to run it.
Let us take a momentary detour from Locke and head down to the local shop. You’ve got business to do but no toilet paper in the house. So you have come down here to exchange your property, a 2 Euro coin for the shopkeepers’ bogroll. You walk down isle, pick up a pack of TP and approach the counter. You drop the coin into the shopkeepers’ hand while swapping pleasantries and then head back home.
Why is this important to our discussion of government taxation rights? It illustrates the concept of tacit consent. By your actions, you agreed to a non-verbal, non-written contract exchanging coin for roll. Equally, whereas voting in a democratic process would be preferred as loud consent, the usage of public infrastructure offers tacit consent to the social contract. As discussed above, a government needs funding to run and consenting to the social contract is consent to carry that burden. Thus, the original argument is undermined as the government is not taking your property anymore, rather it is collecting payment for services rendered. The money levied is no longer your money and belongs to the government.
Revolts and Aliens.
Now, Locke laid the foundations for capitalist governments to develop, it could and has been argued so it seems strange that his writings oppose what is generally felt to be a “Free Market” position. However, as you can see, Locke proposed a consent-based view to taxation, where refusal was wrong not because tax must be paid as a rule but rather because you consented to pay. It is a “Free Market” position. What may be attacked is the idea of silent agreement, though I would move softly as the concept underpins many day-to-day activities and is the prime reason tourists and other foreigners must respect the law while present in the country.
Thus, if you truly belief tax is completely unfair you would seem to have three options at your disposal. First, you can join the anarchists and outright rebel! You would have to completely remove yourself from society to be successful in this case or you will give constant tacit consent. This is really only important if you wished to maintain ideas of property of course. Second, you can democratically lobby for lower taxes. This seems like the expected response most non-libertarians suggest. However, if you could conceive of convincing argumentation for the lowering of tax to nil, you may not need a democratic push to achieve it so what at first seems like the fair and logical way is really just pandering to the crowd. This suggests mutability of rights and arbitrary will which should be abhorred by a republic. Lastly, you could attempt to change the fundamental rules of your government to make tax illegal. I include this because it has been suggested in the past but if you’ve been paying any attention, you can see how frivolous a position it becomes.
Personally, I don’t have an answer. I also don’t consider this to be the last word on the subject. I do expect rebuttals and hate-mail. I no longer hold a vehement belief in no taxation. I am now in the muddled territory of indecision. I will likely hold this position until I have reasoned out many other areas of my political philosophy. However, I still appeal to the same premise for all my politics to subscribe to: Justice. For this reason, I’ll still likely be a torn in socialist behinds.
Shane Geoghegan, prefers Hobbes anyway.
Interesting perspective here… I identify more as a neo-Marxist, and it’s rare I see anyone try to defend the anarcho-capitalist point of view while still acknowledging there may be a necessity for taxation. Thoughts?
Posting might be light over the next couple of days, I’m heading out of town to visit my folks.
Hopefully if you get together with your family for Thanksgiving, it’s marvelously uncomplicated.
However, let’s remember the history of Thanksgiving is not uncomplicated - in fact, it’s fairly complex and brutal. This documentary, The Canary Effect, is a sobering look at the marginalization of American Indians in the United States.
The filmmakers, Robin Davey and Yellow Thunder Woman, are also members of The Bastard Fairies. Check them out - they put their own spin on the pepper-spray cop meme:
And I cannot believe this is America. This is not the America I was raised to love.
The America I was raised to believe in is a figment of history’s imagination. I have known this for years.
Yet the shock is overwhelming.
There was a woman screaming about throwing away the books. Five thousand plus books thrown in the garbage. All that knowledge.
The police are taking the food, throwing it away, blockading and arresting the press, closing the airspace above the park so news helicopters can’t film.
An NYC councilman was beaten about the head and face. He is bleeding profusely.
Residents near Zuccotti Park are locked in their buildings per the NYPD’s orders.
Streets and bridges are barricaded. The counter-terrorism force is on scene.
There is a sound cannon capable of blowing the eardrums of onlookers.
My fellow citizens are bloodied and battered.
And the music I’m listening to in the background as I watch this horror unfold just shuffled to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
And now I feel I am watching a funeral.
And a birth.
From The Maddow Blog:
This sign - and commentary - is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan’s East Village. Maybe it’s time we did something about the economy.
Food banks all over the country are seeing record demand and having difficulty keeping the shelves stocked. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking a few cans to my local food banks this week. And there’s this:
The number of Americans receiving food stamps reached a record 45.345 million in July, the government said. The number was 0.4 percent higher than the previous month and 8.4 percent more than a year earlier.
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had set records every month since December 2008. Texas had the most food-stamp recipients in July, 4.051 million.
A record 1 in 5 people in the US receive federal assistance to feed themselves once WIC is factored in. The average monthly allotment per household is $283.68. Of course, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) thinks the program is out of control. Here’s what he said in an interview with ABC News:
"Well, look, do you think there are four times as many people that need food stamps today as they did in 2001? This year, they are proposing another 14 percent increase in food stamps without any real reform to understand how it is that it surged so dramatically. We cannot do this. We don’t have the money. If Congress doesn’t understand that we can’t continue to double the food stamp program every three years, they don’t understand how deeply we are impacted by the debt. The debt is already pulling down economic growth, costing jobs. We need people working with jobs, not receiving food stamps."
The past year was an excellent one for Sen. Sessions. His net worth increased 124% in 2010 - raising him from millionaire to multimillionaire - which is likely why he said it was "rather pathetic" to expect multimillionaires to shoulder a little more of the burden. Meanwhile, in his state of Alabama, 36% of people receive food stamps and the unemployment rate is 9.8%.
Yes, we need to have people with jobs - though Sessions voted against the jobs bill - and I have a hint as to the why this “surge” occurred: We have a government, specifically Congress, that cares more for dick waving contests and petty infighting than giving a damn that the food stamp usage rate has dramatically risen. American families are going hungry while Congress collectively twiddles their thumbs or butts heads over to what degree the richest 1% deserve to be subsidized.
American exceptionalism? How about being the most unequal industrialized country? How’s that for number one? This is unsustainable and unconscionable. Period.